Tag Archives: vista

Friends with Vista

After nearly a year, I finally decided to figure out what I could do to make my Vista laptop a bit faster. The memory is maxed out at 2 Gigabytes and it has a dual-core AMD CPU. It had always been very very slow in completing trivial tasks, like opening a browser or the control panel. Copying and moving files took way too long, and I just never approached my problem with logic.

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend about my experience with Vista so far, and mentioned to him that I didn’t think it was a problem with Vista, but a hardware issue with my Gateway laptop. “It runs very hot,” I told him. “The hard drive activity never stops. I just don’t think the machine was designed well enough to support such a heavy OS.” I’d never seen Vista so slow on any other computer, so why the hell is it pokey on mine? And what in the dickens is going on with my hard drive?

Then it hit me. Constant hard drive activity is an indicator of (1) a virus or crapware, or (2) an indexing service. Google Desktop search was deployed with the computer when I bought it; part of Gateway’s image, along with all the other garbage like BigFix, AOL , and the Office 2007 90-day trial.

Having been a student of Vista before and during its release, I remembered something about Google and Microsoft having fits about desktop search. It seems that Vista includes its own indexing service to speed up searching, and Google was having a hissy over users not being able to choose a desktop search engine. The Windows Indexing Service is on by default, and I don’t think any manufacturers have changed that in their production images. And it just so happens that Gateway included Google Desktop in every computer they released with Vista, and therein lies my problem: two indexing services, constantly running on my poor little 5400 RPM notebook hard drive.

After some thought, I decided I’m a fairly organized fellow and don’t have the need very often to search for a document. Most of what I access anyway is on the network, and those locations aren’t indexed by default anyway. So away went Google Desktop. Though I love Google, I have no need for that program on my mobile station.

And for that matter, I canceled the Windows Indexing service. No need to pick sides, you know?

Then for a final pick-me-up, I had Vista optimize the graphics for performance, which took away all the eye-candy and effectively made my desktop look like Windows 2000. I’m fine with that.

Oh, and one more thing: I shut off the UAC. Those pain-in-the-ass messages one gets when he tries to install a program, “Windows needs your permission to continue,” are gone. I can now run a command window without specifying to run it as Administrator. I can change IP settings with fewer mouse clicks. A little bubble message when I log on warning me that User Account Control is turned off is the only annoyance I have now, and I’m sure that with a simple registry edit I can get rid of that too. Maybe I’ll post it later.

I must say this little bottom-end laptop is pretty damn speedy these days. NetBeans opens in under 60 seconds. Outlook opens in under 5, and boot times are at their lowest since I got it. This doesn’t change anything about the inevitable change to a Mac when I can afford one, but it certainly makes me more comfortable in delaying it.

Great Laptop For Sale

This is just getting old.

I was consolidating files over the network today and just had to take this screenshot. Vista has its drawbacks, but this is crazy. So…

I have a perfectly good Gateway MT6451 notebook computer for sale. $500 takes it. I’m switching to Mac as soon as possible, because I’m simply tired of waiting for things to happen and downloading hacks to make things work. I just want a computer that works as advertised and has more built in that I can use.

I don’t mind Apple’s non-compatibility with older systems. They did it that way because no one uses them anymore, so why bog the systems down? It’s what many people do – like outgrowing clothes. You don’t have the same shirts in the closet that you had when you were five, do you? And if so, do you wear them? Exactly.

And the price: the MacBook and iMac will last much longer than the average PC in terms of hardware and software usability, so I don’t mind the $2K price tag. I want three new Apple computers: two MacBook Pro laptops, and one new iMac. I could easily squeeze $6K into a powerful new Windows desktop and new monitors, but I’d rather have three working computers for that price. Plus, they run Windows too. It’s a no-brainer.

Um, You Forgot Something

I am just about this (||) close to trashing Vista now. One more feature I need tonight was standard in XP but is now only included in Vista Business and Ultimate. I need to talk to the government, and damn me if I don’t have to fax something. I don’t (like many others) have a facsimile at home. Why would I ever need one if I have a computer, right? Ha! If I had one it would be out in the shed, and I’d have to go dig it out about once every two years. I found my workaround in XP when I started using the Windows Fax Wizard. Why wouldn’t it be in Vista?

I guess it’s in the Business and Ultimate editions because those folks, after buying their new software licenses, can’t afford a damn fax machine anymore. The fortunate kids who saved a couple of hundred on a good cheap laptop with Home Premium will have to forgo the fax and buy another clunky piece of junk to use once per American marriage.

I’m now going to use CutePDF to get a portable document and e-mail those deprecated people at the State Department of Revenue.

Surface Computing

I’d heard of Microsoft Surface computing just a few weeks ago, but thought it was in more of a development phase. Turns out it’s not. Watch this video and see if you can find some uses for this platform. Kinda reminds one of Minority Report, doesn’t it?

Streets & Trips 2007 vs. Windows Vista

I got a new computer a couple of weeks ago and decided it should go with me everywhere. Having made that decision, I needed Streets & Trips installed and working so I wouldn’t have to install it on my company machine. No problem, right? Wrong. Here’s my story so far with Microsoft Streets & Trips:

In 2005, I got S&T 2005 with the GPS locator device. Everything worked great. Flawless. Perfect. Loved it. Upgraded to 2006 when it came out, again without incident. Last November, 2007 was released with an upgraded locator device, but since I already had a perfectly good one, I ordered Streets & Trips 2007 without the device (clever me – I saved about $80) and it arrived from Amazon.com shortly after the release date.

Upon installing over the 2006 edition, I found that it simply uninstalls 2006 (or whatever earlier edition one may have) and cleanly installs S&T 2007. Fine. Whatever.

What it never told me is that it flushed all the drivers for the GPS locator device I had. Same program, just a newer version, and it paid no mind to my existing device. Not recognized. No support. Found nothing at microsoft.com about the Pharos GPS-360 device. I didn’t get it. I still don’t.

What I finally stumbled upon was at some 4-wheel-drive site that somehow had the drivers for this device. I installed these separately and the device worked perfectly. I don’t know why the device isn’t supported naturally by S&T 2007, but I’d found a fix and had helped a few friends with this issue. I thought it was over.

And then I got this new computer with Windows Vista. Different structure to the operating system. Some things still don’t work. And all I had was this driver installer program written by some people who use Google to speak English. It said it successfully installed the drivers for this GPS-360, but when I plugged it in, Windows couldn’t find anything to support it. This went on for several days as I downloaded the latest stuff from pharos, installed it, plugged in my GPS locator, and had no luck. Several times.

Then I got wise. I still had the discs for S&T 2005, and the drivers just had to be on there, didn’t they? Tonight I put the setup disc in and browsed it for the drivers. They were there, and I was set. So I plugged in my locator and waited for Windows to tell me it couldn’t find the drivers for my device…

And somehow it found them automatically. I don’t know if it found them on the CD, or finally saw what I had installed seven times previously, but it works. And I’m happy. I’m writing this so that Google may index it for people looking to ease their troubles with Streets & Trips 2007 using the Pharos GPS-360 device. Here are the drivers from the S&T 2005 disc in case they happen to work for you.

Update: Some folks may have trouble with the zip file I’ve got. Here are the driver files as they are on the Streets & Trips 2005 CD: